Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Star

Publicity photo taken in 1924.
Virginia Davis McGhee / December 31, 1918- August 15, 2009
VIRGINIA DAVIS BECAME THE FIRST DISNEY STAR AT THE AGE OF 4, she recently passed away at the age of 90. Blond and curly haired, she beat out Mickey Mouse, often thought to be Disney's first star. The adorable Virginia was the star of a series of silent films titled ,"Alice in Cartoonland", which featured her interacting with cartoon characters.
The young Disney, in the early 1920's, was facing bankruptcy. He received backing for the Alice series only if he would allow Virginia to play Alice. Mickey didn't show up till 1928.
Walt Disney first spotted the tot at the age of 4 in an ad, eating a slice of bread and jelly, smiling and licking her lips, (a filmed commercial, way back then!). She then became the first person to appear with animated characters.
The series were generally shot in a vacant lot. Virginia was asked to perform in front of a white cloth, strung up in the lot. Disney directed her to look sad, happy, or scared. Animated characters were added later. There were no rehearsals, and they filmed without a permit, left quickly if the police were spotted. Passers-by and neighborhood children usually became part of the movie.
In an interview in 2006, Ms. Davis/ McGhee recalled Disney's favorite instruction: "Let's pretend".


Unknown said...

Hi Lyn,

This little lady looks rather advanced for 4! One wonders if she had any kind of career afterwards? You keep findin' 'em!

Re: Hong Kong. Just book the tickets and go!

Lyn said...

She was actually about 6 in that photo, and had roles in films for other studios, appearing in the Judy Garland movie,"The Harvey Girls". She did voice overs for characters in Pinocchio.
I find these fabulous characters, unfortunately, after they've passed on! But so many of them have led long and fruitful lives.
Thanks for the advice!!

Lyn said...

Hi Derrick-
Hi Derrick-
Forgot to address you in previous comment...wooops!

Kat Mortensen said...

Wow! I never knew of her at all and she's been around for 90 years? Her Disney appearances must have been before my time. What a cutie - I think I prefer her to Shirley Temple.


Lyn said...

Hi Kat-
I think she was before everyone's time..glad I found her! But I like Shirley too, who is probably very old by now also...

alaine@éclectique said...

A cute little button and interesting to find that they used children in commercials way back then. Cute littlies are still being featured in ads for spreads and sandwiches.

Lyn, apologies for not participating in your MeMe Award the other day; we had a rush trip to Melbourne.

Lyn said...

Hi Alaine-
She's quite a sweetheart, isn't she? So glad I found her..
No problem with the MeMe..there are just too many things to do..

Jeane Myers said...

oh my, how fabulous - another wonderful bit of info Lyn - loved it :)

Lyn said...

Hi Jeane-
Thank you..Yes, it is fun to discover all of these original characters..what a world!!

Tess Kincaid said...

She was adorable. Funny, I can't think of any of her movies off the top of my head.

Lyn said...

Hi Willow-
She sure was a cutie..I don't know any of her movies either..probably a list in Wikipedia..


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